Remove Tar | How To Get Tar Off Of Shoes?

How To Get Tar Off Of Shoes

All of us want out to preserve our precious shoes from any sort of dirt or dust. But several other ways can ruin your shoes, like tar.

Tar is used to repair the roads in the city areas. A portion of it can get melted when exposed to high temperatures and get stuck to the outsoles of your shoes. This can significantly ruin your outsoles and the overall appearance.

As tar is a sticky substance, it is hard to remove and comes in the way of walking. Even though it is a tedious job, a few simple cleaning tricks can save your hard-earned dollars.



Materials Required

Removing tar from the shoes is not child’s play. You will have to bring out the big guns and use a set of materials. You will need the following necessary materials. You might have to add a few according to the different types of tar in question.

  1. Plastic Knife
  2. Old toothbrush
  3. Dish soap or Detergent
  4. WD-40
  5. Clean Cloth
  6. Bowl
  7. Newspapers

Note: WD-40 is a multipurpose spray that helps remove grime, tar, or any such materials if you didn’t know.


Steps to Remove Different Types of Tar from Shoes

There are different types of tar: bar, beach, and pine. As they differ in terms of texture, you will have to try out other methods to eliminate the shoes’ tar.


Bar Tar

Bar Tar

Bar tar is considered to be the most stubborn type of tar. It is incredibly sticky and stains the shoes to an alarming extent.

You can remove it by following these steps:

  1. Take the plastic knife and scrape off the tar as much as you can. Place a newspaper underneath to avoid any mess.
  2. Do not gouge the sole of the shoe or damage the material while doing so.
  3. Mix some dish soap with warm water.
  4. With the help of a toothbrush, scrub the mixture on the remaining tar. You may have to repeat the process three to four times.
  5. If you see some tar remaining on your shoes, spray some WD-40 to lubricate them.
  6. Let it sit for a few minutes and start scrubbing the area again.
  7. After the shoes are cleaned, wash them with water and detergent.


Beach Tar

Beach Tar

Beach tar is a natural seepage coming from the bottom of the ocean. It is also known as rock oil. If you live around a beach or have visited a beach, you might find your flip-flops getting stained. This can be frustrating as it can deteriorate its overall appearance.

There are two ways to get rid of beach tar.

Method 1:

You can opt for this alternative if there isn’t any significant tar at the back of your footwear. This is the easiest method as it does not require any material.

  1. Place your footwear in a freezer for a few hours and let the tar turn brittle.
  2. Remove it from the freezer and scrape off the tar.


Method 2:

If you cannot remove beach tar with the method mentioned above, we have a secondary plan for you. This method is just an extension of the first alternative.

You will need:

  • Plastic bag
  • Plastic knife
  • Vegetable oil
  • Dish soap
  • Warm water
  • Clean cloth


  1. Place the shoes or footwear in the freezer overnight.
  2. Take them out the next day and scrape off the tar.
  3. For the remainder of it, take a cloth and dip it in some vegetable oil. Dab it on the tar or the stained area.
  4. Mix dish soap and water in a bowl and clean the shoes thoroughly.


Pine tar

Pine tar

It goes without saying that you will walk back home with pine tar after strolling through a pine forest. Pine tar is the resin of the tree that is used to prevent insect infestation. Moreover, it heals cracks caused by animals.

As it does not have petroleum products, it becomes difficult to remove them from the shoes. But as it is lighter in the shade, it will not stain the outsoles.

There are several pine tar removal products on the market. However, if you don’t want to spend your money, we have a homemade method for you.

You will need the following paraphernalia:

  • Plastic knife
  • Plastic bag
  • Paper towels
  • Rubbing alcohol


  1. Place your footwear in the plastic bag and freeze them overnight.
  2. Once the tar is frozen, scrape the tar off with a plastic knife.
  3. Dip a paper towel in some rubbing alcohol and dab on the stained areas. This will keep your shoes squeaky-clean.


The Sides or the Top of the Shoes

People are often surprised to find tar on the side or at the top of their shoes. As it gets mixed with the dust on the road, it can leave a stain on either side as well as near the laces or the tongue.

If it is not too much tar or stains, you can scrape it off with a toothbrush. But if you want to have an intensive cleaning of your shoes, you need to go the extra mile.

When tar is stuck on the side of the top of the shoes, it becomes difficult to remove it. As the shoes are made of different kinds of material, every fabric will react in another way. It is also possible that what works for leather might not work for suede.

Hence, if you want to eliminate tar from your shoes without compromising the quality, you need to consider their material.


Tackling the Bottom of the Shoe

When the tar is stuck on the fabric itself, it needs to be taken care of gently. However, when the tar is attached at the bottom of the shoe (which is more likely), it can be removed with harsh chemicals.

It is easy to get rid of the tar stuck at the bottom of the shoes. Most of the boots have a rubber sole. Start by scrapping the tar. With the help of a toothbrush, scrub the shoe’s bottom with a mixture of dish soap and warm water.

In case there are some stains, use WD-40 to remove them.


How to Get Tar Off of Different Types of Shoes

As mentioned earlier, when you see tar stuck on the side of your shoes, you cannot just brush it off. It will not only ruin the material but also leave certain stains behind.

One needs to be careful while removing such a sticky substance.


Leather Shoes

Leather Shoes

As leather has a smooth texture, it is relatively easier to clean. So, it is not extremely difficult to remove tar stuck on the shoes. However, there is a specific method that needs to be followed to remove tar from leather boots.

You will require the following items:

  • Plastic knife
  • Paper towels
  • Tar remover
  • Leather conditioner


  1. Use a plastic knife to scrape off the tar from the shoes. Be extra gentle when it comes to the side or the top of the footwear.
  2. If you have never used a tar remover, we recommend you try patch testing first. If it does not stain your shoes, you are good to go.
  3. After spraying the tar remover, wipe it away with a clean cloth.
  4. Once the shoe is cleaned, use a leather conditioner to preserve the moisture and shine.


Note: As leather is a soft material, do not brush or wipe it aggressively. If you do not have a tar remover, you can continue the steps with vegetable oil.


Suede Shoes

Suede Shoes

Suede is a type of leather that has a napped finish. It is made from the underside of the animal skin, giving it a smoother finish. But it should be noted that suede is a type of fabric that tends to get darker. So even if there is an accumulation of dust particles, the material will look stained.

Similarly, when tar becomes stuck on suede shoes, the stains become very evident. You can remove it in the following manner:

But first, you will require the following items:

  • Plastic knife
  • Suede brush
  • Clean cloth
  • Leather cleaner


  1. Place the shoes on a flat surface and chafe the tar off the shoes’ surface with a plastic knife.
  2. Brush it in the direction of the material to prevent any damages.
  3. Spray some leather cleaner to the remainder of the tar.
  4. Let it sit for a few seconds and brush it gently till the stains are cleaned.
  5. Wipe the shoes with a clean cloth.
  6. Let the shoes dry naturally.

Note: Suede fabric is sensitive to moisture, so be vigilant while applying the cleaner.


Canvas Shoes

Canvas Shoes

Canvas shoes are the easiest to clean when it comes to tar. As canvas is a durable plain-woven fabric, they are machine-friendly. But when it comes to tar, a washing machine might not be of complete help.

But if you think that you can just pop your shoes in the washing machine to eliminate the far, you are far from reality.

Even though the process is simple, you will have to rub some elbow grease to remove the tar from your canvas shoes.

You will require the following assortments:

  • Plastic knife
  • Paper towels
  • Spray bottle
  • Baby oil
  • Cotton balls
  • Dish soap
  • Warm water


  1. Start by scraping off the big chunks of tar from the outsoles and the shoes’ surface with a plastic knife.
  2. Get rid of the stains by dabbing it with a cotton ball dipped in baby oil.
  3. Clean the shoes with a clean cloth. The cloth should be dry and not damp.
  4. Mix warm water and dish soap and spray it on the shoes with a spray bottle.
  5. Let the mixture sit for a couple of minutes and then clean it with a cloth.
  6. Put the shoes in the washing machine for the final clean-up.

Note: You must not use a brush to remove the tar as it could deteriorate the material.


Additional Tips and Ideas

  1. Always remove the tar with a brush or a remover before placing it in the washing machine.
  2. Baby oil and vegetable oil work well as a lubricant alternative in removing the tar.
  3. Brush the tar gently to avoid the degradation of the fabric.
  4. Freezing the shoes overnight can make the tar brittle and hence easy to remove.
  5. If you do not wish to place your shoes in the freezer, keep it in a plastic bag filled with iced cubes overnight. That will do the trick.
  6. Do not use sharp objects like a blade or metal knife to remove the tar.
  7. Do not procrastinate the cleaning process and eliminate the tar as soon as possible.
  8. Avoid using excessive oil or peanut butter to remove the tar. It can cause long-lasting stains.
  9. Do not wash your shoes along with your clothes.
  10. A mixture of water, vinegar, and dish soap can also help in removing the tar.
  11. But avoid using vinegar directly on rubber soles.


The bottom line

Accidents happen as nobody would willingly step into a tar surface in their brand-new pair of shoes. In case you find yourself in a similar situation, do not throw your shoes away and go on a shopping trip for a new pair of boots. Adhere to the methods mentioned above and keep tar and its dirty stains at an arm’s distance.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top